Since 1987, we’ve been playing a science fiction and fantasy franchise Final Fantasy created by Hironobu Sakaguchi. This is a series of role-playing video games which later tried other genres like action, massively multiplayer online role-playing, third-person shooter and other. Thanks to the great reception the game crossed media, so there were anime, manga, novels and CGI films, the most famous one being the one made in 2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
Each game in the Final Fantasy series is a standalone story, although they’re all connected with the same defining elements like character names, plot, and game mechanics. Namely, names originate from pop culture, history and mythology from all over the world. When it comes to plot, the main concept is the same in all games: a group of heroes fighting against evil.
This is a series famous for their visual aspects and music, as well as for photo-realistic models and full-motion videos. Because of its popularity, Final Fantasy franchise has been one of the main promoters of the role-playing genre in the gaming industry worldwide. So, of course, that releasing a game such as Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition will make your smartphone lose battery life from anticipation.
How did it fare?
Far better than I expected, to tell you the truth.
The game developed and published by Square Enix, as usual, came out this year for Android and iOS devices. Instead of being overly complicated and sometimes confusing as compared to the console version, Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is surprisingly comfortable to play. This is probably because the mobile version required a certain sacrifice regarding the graphics and narration, which could worry the players. But the end result came out great, especially for those who lack time to play hours and hours of the console game.
That is why this is an abridged version of the original game, although the main story is generally the same. Prince Noctis and his group of friends Ignis, Prompto, and Gladio are going to his wedding. But, the Empire attacked his country and killed his father making him the new king. In order to get the power to beat the Empire, he must visit the graves of the former kings.
Since there is no time to spend on long and tiring side quests, Final Fantasy: Pocket Edition sticks to the simple and, honestly, more logical storyline. The side quests are shorter and without any unnecessary prolongation of the story since it’s dangerous times after all, and you have the Empire to defeat. You are given a task, so you tap on the phone, go there, deal with it and continue your journey.
When it comes to gameplay, I loved how easy it was to play. The battles are certainly one of the most challenging aspects when playing the console version, and being so easy here just blows my mind. Namely, during battles, you control prince Noctis while the game takes over his friends. With experience and levels come special combat abilities for your friends, just like in the original game.
You will still have the ability to warp, which is one of the best things ever since it allows you to jump between opponents with one tap of your finger. Because of these important, and yet simplified battle options, the game is easier to follow and you won’t get confused. The action is more clear thanks to the isometric camera, although I can’t say that the enemies are simple as well. You will have to put in an effort to beat them, which only makes the Pocket Edition more charming and delightful to play. Certainly, it gives more control to the players so they can understand what is happening on the screen.
But the combat mode is not without any problems, although the mechanic behind it is more agreeable. Sometimes the icons don’t work well and you can miss tapping them in time. This can cause you to lose some points since the game is not calibrated well to respond to the tapping on the screen – the character would move, instead of attack, for example. Although this is not something that happened a lot, it can still be quite unnerving when you play, like when you’re fighting the Boss in Altissia, for instance, when the battle puts your reflexes to the test in a big way. Sometimes, it was hard to follow when to swipe and when to tap, so it kind of took out the fun from playing.
Nonetheless, the game is not without flaws. Turning a console version into a mobile one had to create some issues, like not giving enough space to characters and explaining their motivation, as well as clarifying some events which are essential to the story. You will feel as though something is missing and that makes it hard to get this game as seriously as the console version.
And for those wondering if Ignis stopped cooking since the storyline is simplified – the answer is: Hell, no. The developers didn’t take the soul out of the game, even if they made everything more appropriate for the mobile devices. And this is where Square Enix succeeded brilliantly. They were able to turn a big and complex story into a great smaller one without sacrificing its essence. That says a lot about the narrative department of the game.
In the end
Final Fantasy: Pocket Edition may have some bugs, but it is certainly a great example of how to deal with narrative when turning a big game into a smaller one. There are some bugs, which I’m sure the developers will correct with updates, but the gameplay lasts for only 10 hours, so I’m not sure how much that means to those who already finished the game. The graphics, although different, are cute and you will get used to the art and design pretty fast, although everything looks better in the original game.
This is a great game for those who lack the time to play but still want to be a part of the Final Fantasy story. If all developers could adapt to this successful narrative reduction, there would be more mobile games to play that are simplified versions of their originals. It’s a nice thing to hope for in the future, since that will make big titles like Final Fantasy available for everyone, and not just certain demographics.